Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emanuel County Couple Plead Guilty to Mortgage Fraud Scheme

BRIAN STEPTOE, 41, and NATASHA STEPTOE, 38, both from Emanuel County, Georgia, pleaded guilty today in federal district court to bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, respectively.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who engage in financial crimes,” stated United States Attorney Ed Tarver.

Evidence presented during their guilty pleas revealed that the Steptoes, with the assistance of others, knowingly submitted a false loan application and other documentation to Bank of America with regard to a $400,000 home loan. The investigation revealed that the Steptoes’ scheme was to defraud Bank of America in order to pocket sizeable sums of money for themselves and others. The property went into foreclosure soon after it was sold and remains on the market to this day.

BRIAN STEPTOE faces a maximum penalty of thirty (30) years' imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and five (5) years' of supervised release. He is currently incarcerated and awaits sentencing. NATASHA STEPTOE faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three (3) years' of supervised release. She remains on bond pending her sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

U.S. Attorney Tarver recognized the extensive efforts of the FBI in bringing this criminal activity to light, and particularly praised the efforts of Statesboro FBI Special Agent Cornelius Harris, who investigated this case.

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